The dialogue between characters is one of the most important parts of a novel or short-story and it’s important to get it feeling just right.
When someone is reading a story, the ways in which characters express themselves and what they’re saying is very important for the reader to feel like they’re getting to know them and to build some empathy with the characters. When writing, you should always remember how you’d feel as a reader as well.
For the dialogue to feel natural, it can’t just be comprised of a couple sentences that someone said. You must create a sort of movie in readers head, helping them understand the character and feel what they might be facing. However, you should be very careful not to use language that might be too polished or poetic, as those tend not to feel natural at all.
Each character should have a different voice and it must show through what they say. Different people use different kinds of sentences and vocabulary, and so should the characters.
It’s important to give them a unique voice, but it’s also important to remember that a conversation might have a lot of repetition and that it could prove boring to read, so you can add some summary into your dialogue, shortening the parts of it that your readers might not need to read in a tremendous level of detail. The reality is that most people would not go to such depths while elaborating or explaining themselves, at least not at first glance. This will also make the character appear more realistic and grounded.
As I said before, some parts of the conversation might become boring to read. You must decide what’s really important for the story and things that are just normal, boring chatter. If your character is a mechanic, it might be important for the story to know what’s going on with the car he is fixing, but you probably wouldn’t place him describing meticulously what he is doing with all the steps, for each of his tools, right? Good dialogue works vaguely in the same way.
What you say and what you think
In real life, you don’t always say everything you’re thinking (as many times, that wouldn’t be correct, or polite, at all). Your character shouldn’t neither.
To feel natural, your dialogue must contain hints of what your character is really thinking or what he or she would like to say, but sadly can’t or somehow struggles to. Give your readers something to think about.
What can you say about silence? Well, it can say as much as words, for starters, right? So, in order to enrich your scene, interrupt the dialogue sometimes, describe a character’s body language and you’ll have a richer picture and a greater scene to present your audience with. This might actually paint a fuller picture than some additional lines of dialogue ever would.